Cheap and Free Things to Do in Brooklyn That You’ll Love
A native Brooklynite offers the frugal foodie, scholar, or runner valuable suggestions on how to enjoy one of the priciest boroughs of New York City without breaking the bank.
$14 gimlets. $10 organic vegan ice cream sundaes. Welcome to Brooklyn, one of the most expensive areas of the U.S. to live in, according to Bloomberg. As a native of the area, I’m always looking for cheap and free things to do in Brooklyn with my family and friends. Here’s a list of fun-but-frugal ideas that I’ve curated over the years:
For the Outdoorsy Type
Love the outdoors? Then you’ll love Brooklyn Bridge Park. From kayaking to soccer, it offers tons of cheap and free things to do in Brooklyn. Plus, the views are stunning.
Meanwhile, with 526 acres of forest grounds, Prospect Park is lovingly known as “Brooklyn’s Backyard.”
It features two basketball courts, more than a dozen ballfields, a 3.35-mile cycling and running loop, and a 3.5-mile bridle path for horseback riding. For the yogis out there, the Prospect Park Alliance offers Yoga in the Park, a free outdoor summer program. And for nature lovers like me, the Audubon Center offers a wide range of free public programs that allow visitors to explore the diversity of nature. Don’t forget to check out the Fall Foliage Walk in October!
And then there’s Coney Island. True to its legacy as the “People’s Playground,” it organizes plenty of free activities and programs for visitors of all ages. Along the three miles of public beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, there are free volleyball, handball, and basketball courts, as well as playgrounds.
Every Saturday, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will waive its $15 entry fee if you arrive before noon.
Of course, the best way to get to know Brooklyn is on foot. Explore Brooklyn is an excellent resource for self-guided walks. You can visit neighborhoods such as Red Hook, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights, among others.
For the Foodie
Are you an omnivore? Check out Industry City’s enormous food court and collection of public courtyards. Prices range from $5 to $25, and the restaurants often offer free samples.
Sunset Park, my childhood neighborhood, is rich with Latinx and Chinese restaurants, especially budget-friendly ones. One of my favorite things to do is visit the park itself, which boasts one of the best views of New York City from its hill.
And who can say no to $2.50 pizza slices or $4 breakfast tacos? GrubStreet’s “Best New Cheap Eats” selection includes a number of Brooklyn restaurants. Meanwhile, if you’re into karaoke, you can head to the Alligator Lounge on Metropolitan Avenue. There you can get free pizza with every drink you purchase.
For the Artsy and Creative Sorts
Part lab, part museum, the nonprofit Pioneer Works in Red Hook offers a unique program of lectures, concerts, and courses that blur the line between art and science. Admission? Free.
New York City’s premier photo festival, Photoville is free and open to the public. It takes place every September at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
On the second Monday of every month, Franklin Park — the Crown Heights beer garden — hosts a free reading series featuring both new and established writers. Plus, the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Public Library also offer terrific public events at no cost.
Make sure to join these groups’ email lists and follow them on social media for more cool events and programs!